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Legal Research

Finding historical court decisions

Early Australian court decisions were often reported in newspapers and early court reports. Our news sources guide may help you find particular historical court decisions.

Not all judgments are published, even if they are mentioned in the news. This may be because the case hasn't set a precedent, was viewed as having little significance, or is of a sensitive nature.

AustLII - Australian Legal History Libraries, includes:

  • Australasian Colonial Legal History Library (pre-1901)
  • Australasian Federation Law Library (1901-1950)
  • Australasian Modern Law History Library (1951-2000)

Many subscription legal databases contain historical cases. See Australian case law databases and unreported cases.